WOMEN's Institute members put their crafting skills to good use to raise more than £1,000 for a cause close to their hearts.

Over the last two years, ladies from English Bicknor WI have crafted a range of items such as bags, bowls and tablet stands to sell at local events, with the aim of raising funds for their chosen charity for 2022/23, The Forest of Dean Children’s Opportunity Centre in Coleford.

The charity provides early years childcare and workshops for children aged from three months to five years, as well as support and facilities for children with special educational needs (SEN).

Through the sale of craft items and other fundraising raffles and collections, the WI managed to raise a total of £1,151 for the centre, which relies on donations from the community to stay afloat.

WI members visited the centre last week to present a big cheque to the staff and children, and even settled in afterwards for a cup of tea and a reading of the children’s classic ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’.

WI member Rosemary Blackburn explained: “We have a chosen charity each year or every two years - this has been for two years - and we’ve raised £1,151 for the Children’s Opportunity Centre. 

“That’s been from making craft items and selling them at various fetes during the two years, raffles, and also if we’ve got any loose change when we’re at our meetings, we collect it in a tin.

“We think it’s a fabulous charity that needs local support. 

“We’ve made this women’s institute famous for making crafty things, so we’ve actually got together in groups and made a range of items.” 

The group had a stall at the Forest Showcase Food Festival at Speech House in the autumn at which they sold their wares.

From donated fabrics, the group made all sorts of bags and containers, phone and tablet stands and cases for glasses, along with bowls and beads from old magazines with “useful and fun” Items especially made for dogs.

WI President Carol Bluett said in a speech ahead of the presentation: “The money has been raised over about the last 18 months through various events.

“The main one was at the Forest Food Showcase at Speech House, I’m sure you’re all aware of it. 

“Our craft ladies were tirelessly producing a huge amount of beautiful items which we took, they were so well received and we sold so much, which was an absolute delight for all of us. 

“While we were there we were also able to not only promote our WI, but to really push what the Opportunity Centre is all about, especially to people who didn’t really know. 

“I think that really helped us to sell even more stuff, to be quite honest, because they felt they were supporting such a lovely local cause. 

“Many of our ladies have connections over the years to the opportunity centre. I think that makes it close to our hearts and we know that the money will go to good use.”

For more information about the Children's Opportunity Centre, click here.